Recorded in New York in 1957 (though not released until 1962), Tijuana Moods was, according to Mingus himself, "the best album I ever made." The music is a vigorous stew of Mexican rhythms and sophisticated post-Ellington arrangements, further invigorated by the soloing of trumpeter Clarence Shaw, trombonist Jimmy Knepper, and, particularly, saxophonist Shafi Hadi. Mingus's vision of Tijuana was clearly sensual, the music evoking strippers, frenetic street scenes, and heart-broken lovers. Making use of suitelike thematic material and various forms of counterpoint, the group sounds much larger than it is, and points toward Mingus's later experiments with form.
When he passed away in 1978, Charles Mingus left behind a 40-year legacy as one of jazz's most important bassists and prolific composers. He also left unfinished his most ambitious work, EPITAPH. Originally composed for an open recording session at New York's Town Hall in 1962, EPITAPH was marked by difficulty and the subsequent release was incomplete and disappointing. The idea and score then disappeared for more than 20 years.
In the early '50s, Ray Charles took the fiery passion of gospel and the hard-hitting sound of the blues, and by putting them together he created a whole new sound in rhythm & blues that helped make him a legend in American music.
This album is unique in Mingus' enormous catalog. As the title indicates, the famous bassist takes to the ivories solo to give life to his dazzling improvisational art. At first it seems odd to hear Mingus without one of his trademark interactive and exploratory ensembles. But the sensibility that he brings to this collection of piano pieces bears all the signs of the composer's genius…
Of all the titles in the Impulse! 2 on 1 series, this volume may be the very finest. It pairs two indisputable classic Charles Mingus titles – both of which have endured for nearly 50 years – that were cut during the same year. While The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady was recorded on January 20, 1963, the recording that ended up as Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus was begun that very day, but not finished until September. The former album is rightly regarded as one of (if not the) Mingus' masterpieces for its use of colors, tonalities, expansive harmonies, and the juxtaposition of numerous aspects of the jazz tradition – from Ellingtonian swing to hard bop, to West Coast and new-thing jazz – employing a vocal chorus, and even Latin and flamenco flourishes in a single conceptual work played by an 11-piece orchestra.